Every one loves an underdog story. To see our protagonist succeed, in spite of the insurmountable odds stacked against them tends to leave us in awe. Because their triumph is not due to their skill alone; but by their sheer determination and will. Such is the story is told in:
Directed by Yō Moriyama and produced by TMS Entertainment, Megalo Box tells the story of Junk Dog; an underground boxer and his team as they are pushed to their emotional and physical limit in their journey to Megalonia, the International Megalo Box Championship! A modern, cyber-punkian, retelling of the beloved boxing manga/anime known as Ashita no Joe; screenwriters Katsuhiko Manabe and Kensaku Kojima do wonders at retaining this tale’s beating heart within this new and futuristic canvas. With captivating visuals, an emotional story and stakes; this series is the perfect venture for those looking for a powerful viewing experience in their first journey into anime or revisiting the medium.
All the elements that make an epic sports drama are here. The downtrodden, yet exceptional athlete. The drunkard, run-down trainer. A re-ignited passion for the sport and an impossible feat to achieve. Each of these tropes and more are masterfully executed throughout; but what allows this production to stand out is its unique style and presentation. Though painted with a dystopian palette of nuts and bolts, the show doesn’t focus on the spectacle of mechanically enhanced boxers; but on keeping its story grounded, streamlined and in the forefront. Its narrative doesn’t try to reinvent or make you forget about the original “Joe” anime; but it embraces it, by wearing its roots on its sleeve without shame, making Megalo Box an honorable successor. It knows what it wants to be and it triumphs, it wins by knockout.
Now, there is no great anime that doesn’t have a great soundtrack and, oh boy, Megalo Box does not disappoint. With a hip-hop themed soundtrack, with touches of latin, R&B and other urban flavors, Japanese artist Mabanua captures the series vast wasteland, underground rings, gangster pads, countryside and corporate settings. The most effective tracks or at least the ones I am most obsessed with are the character and fight-related themes. My favorite track so far, which I would put in an endless loop to workout with, is the fight track titled “Beginning of The Fight”.
Here is a sample:
One of the advantages of the series is its length. Megalo Box is composed of 13 episodes, with each episode’s run time being roughly around 24 minutes, respectively. This makes the show perfect for binge-watching, with its total run being around 5 hours and 25 minutes. That is the equivalent to 3 – 4 feature films. And because of the short duration of each episode; demoing the show to see if it qualifies as your next obsession is easy. You can watch the first episode, which is an awesome pilot, and quickly decide on either finishing the series or not. I trust it will be the former. You can enjoy it throughout the course of a week or pummel through it within a day. The alternatives are many, yet simple.
There it is folks, an introduction to one of the best anime to invade our screens during 2018 and a real triumph in drama and storytelling. During late 1960’s Japan, the story of a determined young boxer from the slums with the dream of facing his rival in the world’s greatest boxing ring captured the imagination of young teens as its volumes were distributed in manga form. It is this story captured in Ashita no Joe, that Megalo Box has revitalized for a new generation. In the states, we will always Stallone’s Rocky as the quintessential underdog boxing tale; but Japan will forever have Joe.
Check out Megalo Box, the entire series, on Hulu, Crunchyroll or as part of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim anime line-up during late night hours.
Check out the trailer here:
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Till next time,
The Scarlet Fan